Quillblade, by Ben Chandler

As the timbers of Itsu’s new airdock rocked in their brackets, a familiar creaking reverberated through the airship’s hull and lulled Lenis closer to sleep. Aeris was snuggled into his chest, purring in her sleep, her tail wrapped up around her nose. On the other side of the engine room the rest of the Bestia huddled together in their hutch, a thrumming pile of contented fur. the trip from Pure Land to Shinzo had been long, and they had all earned their rest.

Lenis and his twin sister, Missy are slaves, sold on many times at the whim of their owners. Now they have been gifted with an airship to a warlord. Lenis is a Bestia Keeper and has an empathy with animals. Missy can read thoughts and also understand World languages. When the newly delivered airship is stolen just as the new owner comes to take possession, the thirteen-year-olds embark on an adventure beyond their imagining. Fleeing the wrath of the warlord, they encounter demons and wastelands, kindness and evil. The crew is a motley bunch – some eccentric, others mad, all individual – and the twins must learn who to trust. They must also learn to trust themselves and their growing powers.

Quillblade is the first instalment in a new fantasy series from first-time Adelaide author Ben Chandler. And a rich adventure it is too, set some hundreds of years in the future. Although there is no reference to an old world, there is a sense that it no longer exists. Instead there are several lands, quite different in culture, and all struggling with the wastelands, areas full of poisonous miasmas and demons. Protective elements/totems have gradually been taken over by destructive ones and the crew of the Hirya (with help from individuals) are trying to save their world. There are themes of good vs evil, loyalty, friendship, family and more. The thirteen-year old twins, sold off at age four, have been accustomed to just doing what they are told, expecting nothing, thinking nothing. Their journey includes them emerging from this state to discover who they are. A thrilling read.

Recommended for secondary readers and beyond. Look out for Book Two: ‘Beast Child’ due for 2011 release.

Quillblade: Voyages of the Flying Dragon: Bk. 1

Quillblade: Voyages of the Flying Dragon: Bk. 1, Ben Chandler
Random House 2010
ISBN: 9781864719789

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.